Today in History: August 23

The execution of the Scottish independence fighter Sir William Wallace (above) was considered so important that even though it took place more than seven centuries ago, we know that it took place on precisely this date in 1305.

Wallace’s main argument in his own defense was that he needed no defense against the charge of treason because he had not committed treason—”I could not be a traitor to [King] Edward, for I was never his subject”—which was considered treasonous in itself. The manner of his execution was brutal and has not been performed in almost two centuries in Great Britain (which means that it was performed for almost five more centuries). Post-execution, Wallace’s body parts were displayed for decades after.

But his reputation as a freedom fighter grew and by the 15th century he was the subject of one of Scotland’s best-loved poems, The Wallace, which presents Wallace as unfailingly generous, brave, and kind. Whether correct or not (and it may very well be), it is the image of William Wallace that remains and that was preserved and extended in the film Braveheart. (The film added to the legend the mullets, the wearing of tartan kilts, and face-painting, none of which were seen in Wallace’s time at all.)

* * * *
At a war effort benefit at Yankee Stadium 74 years ago today, 48-year-old Babe Ruth faced 55-year-old Walter Johnson, and the “ancient” ballplayers put on a show. Some $80,000 was raised for Army-Navy Relief. Johnson, who retired after the 1927 season, was given an unlimited number of pitches to throw to Ruth so the slugger could hit one more out of the ball park. The newsreel from the time gives a glimpse of Johnson’s unique sidearm pitching delivery.

* * * *
The Big Sleep, a film version of Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name that was directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall opened in theaters 70 years ago today.

* * * *
Rudolph Valentino died 90 years ago today. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed on this date in 1927. Maynard Ferguson died 10 years ago today. Ferguson and band play “Birdland” on The Mike Douglas Show:

* * * *
Gene Kelly was born in 1912 on this date. Keith Moon was born 70 years ago today. River Phoenix was born on this date in 1970.

* * * *
Vera Miles is 87. Barbara Eden is 85. Mark Russell is 84. Shelley Long is 67. Rick Springfield is 67. Mark Hudson is 65 today. Queen Noor of Jordan is 65. My fellow Marist College alum Rik Smits is 50. Jay Mohr is 46. Kobe Bryant is 38.

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  1. rogershipp · August 28, 2016

    Loved reading and seeing The Babe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · August 28, 2016

      Thank you Roger! I’m glad to see you again … have to catch up with you

      Liked by 1 person

      • rogershipp · August 29, 2016

        NIce to be here again. School has started. I think my schedule will be more stable?


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